This fall, more than 100 women leaders from across Canada met in Vancouver for the 90th annual general meeting of the Federation of Medical Women of Canada.
While women now represent a majority of students in many medical schools in Canada, there is a stark shortage of those who attain roles in administration, academia and leadership. Dr. Mamta Gautum, incoming FMWC president and an Ottawa psychiatrist explained, “Our goal is to foster women physicians, students and residents to look beyond their role of a doctor and provide examples of how that experience can be applied to create political change.”
The sentiment was clearly represented among the speakers whose careers crossed the spectrum from patient care to organized medicine and beyond. “Politics is a natural progression of being a physician,” encouraged speaker Dr. Hedy Fry, member of Parliament for Vancouver Centre.
Reflecting modern issues in feminism and gender equity, this year was the first time a panel discussion was held offering the reflections of male spouses. “You have to define your shared objectives and work toward them,” said Hassan El Masri, a notary public and spouse of a general surgery resident in Vancouver.
During the awards ceremony, Toronto police detective Wendy Leaver was inducted as an honorary member for her work protecting women in the sex trade. Saskatchewan’s Dr. Lalita Malhotra was acknowledged for her pioneering work in women’s health as one of the first female physicians in her region.
The FMWC was founded in 1924 and strives to advocate for the advancement of female physicians and women’s health. Its next AGM will be in September 2015, in Toronto. The FMWC is a branch of the Medical Women’s International Association, whose triennium theme is prevention of violence against women.
Reprinted in part by permission from Pamela Liao, MD NCMP. Resident Family Physician, University of Toronto. The Medical Post, October 7, 2014.